For a new nurse graduate, knowing how to effectively communicate with doctors is very important, especially for your patients well being and your nursing practice. For some new nurses, communicating with doctors can be very daunting. Some new nurses feel they were not taught or encouraged enough in nursing school to communicate with doctors.
Many nursing schools fail to teach the future nurse how to communicate with physicians and this can leave the new nurse feeling overwhelmed when they are on their own. In addition, new nurses do not know what is considered “important enough” to report to the doctor and sometimes fail to notify doctors about certain things. This can be due to the new nurse not feeling confident enough with their communication skills.
New Nurse Graduate Tips for Communicating with Doctors
- For future nurses still in nursing school: Take advantage of your clinicals times and ask your preceptor or professor to let you make phone calls to doctors regarding your patient. For example, let your professor or preceptor listen on one line while you make the phone call and talk to the doctor on the other. This way if the doctor asks you something you don’t know your preceptor can help you out. Remember don’t let the first time you talk to a doctor as a nurse be when you graduate from nursing school.
- Role Play! Before you call a doctor have one of your colleagues or preceptor go over what you are going to say. Sometimes this with help bring up questions the doctor might ask you…..this way you can be prepared.
- Always have the patient’s vital signs, recent lab work, and current medications on hand when talking to the doctor. There is nothing more embarrassing when calling a doctor and they ask you a question about one of these things and you say “oh hold on let me go find it”.
- When begining the conversation, always state the name of the patient you are calling about, room number, why the patient was admitted, and ask if they are familiar with the patient. Sometimes other doctors cover for other doctors and they may not be familiar with that current patient so be prepared to state why the patient was admitted. Here is an example of a conversation:
“Hello Dr. Smith. I am calling about John Doe in room 805. He came in with Congestive Heart Failure exacerbation. Are you familiar with this patient?”
“No, I’m not can you please tell me about them.”
“The patient came in yesterday with shortness of breath and weight gain of 6 lbs over his baseline weight. Dr. Jones started him on IV Lasix 80mg BID and he has been responding fairly well. However, within the past 10 minutes he has been having a new onset of “crushing like” chest pain which is why I am calling.”
- Always be courtesy, even if the doctor is rude to you. Sometime during your time as a new nurse you will encounter a rude physician but it is the best policy to not be rude back but to be the bigger person. Don’t stoop to their level but stand your ground. If you ever do encounter a rude physician report it to your nurse manager. For example here is a way you can handle it:
“I swear if you call me one more time regarding this patient you are going to regret it! I can’t stand incompetent nurses who think they know everything!”
“Dr. Smith, please do not talk to me that way. When you have calmed down we may talk about this patient’s issue.”
- Try to have confidence in yourself because if you feel uncomfortable communicating with doctors it will show while you are talking to them. You will start fumbling over your words and this will convey to the doctor you are unsure of yourself. So be confident!
- If you have questions on whether to contact a doctor about your patient’s condition ask the other nurses on your unit. Ask them what they would do! Remember you are not alone on the floor and you have resources so use them.
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